Release date:October 25, 2006
Studio:First Run/Icarus Films
Fernand Melgar's "Exit" is a new documentary that deals with the most mundane and yet most emotionally fraught of subjects: death. Eventually, none of us escapes the ordeal of a parent or friend's death; inevitably we wonder if fate will be kind to us, or if we will endure a painful and lingering demise. In Switzerland, Exit, a membership organization, facilitates a dignified, swift and pain-free end to the lives of members who are terminal. The film follows the activities of volunteer "escorts" responsible for visiting clients. We hear their conversations, watch them prepare the lethal solution, and in one instance oversee its administration. The humanity and decency with which all this is conducted leaves little wonder that Exit has a long waiting list for membership. Amazingly, for more than 20 years Switzerland has been the only nation in the world to allow legally assisted suicide by groups such as this one. As anyone who has ever raised the subject knows, in the United States it remains one of our last taboos – despite the fact that a majority of Americans support some form of "the right to die." "Exit" makes apparent that the freedom to end one's life is one that every society owes its citizens.